On Valentine’s Day people like to give gifts to loved ones. Chocolate and jewelry are particularly popular. Cyber criminals are taking advantage of this by increasing their hunt for phishing victims in January and the first half of February, according to security researchers at Check Point. The Israeli software company develops security software, including firewalls and VPN solutions.
29 percent more new domains
In order to identify threats, the security experts regularly collect data on Internet domains and current phishing emails. In the past two years, they recorded a significant increase in the activities of cyber criminals related to Valentine’s Day. As a result, around 19,000 new Valentine-themed domains were registered in January 2019. In 2020 this number was already over 20,000 – an increase of 6 percent. In January of that year, the researchers registered more than 25,000 new Love Day domains; that means an increase of 29 percent. Of the 23,000 domains examined, 523 were criminal or at least suspicious, according to a blog post on the software provider’s website.
Gift items such as chocolates or jewelry are often offered on the hackers’ websites. These fraudulent sites often pretend to be websites of well-known companies. For example, a website was again used for phishing attacks, which disguised itself as an online offer from the jewelry manufacturer Pandora. Phishing emails promising extremely high discounts attract victims to these sites. Interested parties can access the fake pages directly from the e-mail via a link, where they are asked to create a user account. Because many people use the same user data for many different accounts, the cybercriminals obtain valuable data in this way.
In January 2020, the Check Point experts registered more than 400 different phishing emails each week in connection with Valentine’s Day. The fact that, as a result of the lockdown, significantly more is currently being bought online and people are shopping on the Internet who have had little experience with it, plays into the hands of criminals.
Don’t click lightly
Security researchers also note an increase in phishing attacks before other public holidays, such as Halloween or Christmas. They advise you not to click on links in e-mails, but rather to google online shops and gift providers. You should always be suspicious of all too tempting specials, for example a discount of 80 percent. Caution is also generally advised with emails from unknown senders. If visiting a website is recommended in such emails, it is best to pay close attention to the spelling of the domain name, because fake websites of well-known brands often contain an inconspicuous “typo”, according to the advice in the Check Point blog post.